“From Pensacola, Florida, Paige Pierce.”
That’s how the OTB Open disc golf tournament in Stockton, California began for Pierce on May 12 as she was introduced at the first tee box.
The Elite Series disc golf tournament ended two days later with Pierce, who moved to Pensacola in 2021, clutching the OTB Open trophy after winning by four strokes over Ohn Scoggins. Pierce, originally from Texas, has now won the OTB Open three consecutive years. Pensacola pro Madison Walker was also on the Round 1 final card.
Three days after the tournament, Pierce, five-time PDGA World Champion, was at Waterboyz Surf & Skate to play with dozens of locals at the weekly Wednesday disc golf putting league held at the Ninth Avenue business. (Waterboyz clears out the skaters on Wednesdays and fills the skating area with disc golf baskets.)
Pierce’s next tournament will be the Portland Open which begins June 1.
Learn more:Who is Page Pierce?
Where to play:Disc golf at Milton’s Pensacola State College course is free and a great way to exercise
Pierce has won 15 major championships and has more than 150 career wins, more than 30 Disc Golf Pro Tour wins and is regarded as one of the top female disc golfers in the sport’s history – if not the greatest. She has been featured in Sports Illustrated and a documentary film about her, “Fierce,’’ was released in 2022.
At Waterboyz, Pierce was much more chill than during the OTB Open – OTB Discs is one of Pierce’s sponsors. She was wearing sandals, sipping a White Claw, and smiling and chatting and putting with everyone else at Waterboyz.
“It’s a beautiful place to be,’’ Pierce said of Pensacola. “There’s a lot of natural beauty here, everyone is friendly, there’s a lot to do and it’s a great disc golf community.” She said Pensacola seemed like a big-city with a “small-town feel.”
Pierce, whose sponsor company Discraft makes a line of Paige Pierce discs, moved to Pensacola with her now-fiancé Allyssa Van Lanen after visiting fellow disc golf professionals and Pensacola residents Eric and Tina Oakley and falling in love with the area. She sometimes posts pictures of herself and Van Lanen on social media visiting Pensacola beach or canoeing on local waters.
In 2022 Pierce posted a video that showed her visiting the putting league at Waterboyz for the first time. The YouTube video has more than 28,000 views. The video also featured top touring pro Kyle Klein who was visiting Pensacola at the time. On another visit, Pierce brought the men’s 2021 PDGA World Champion James Conrad to putting league.
In November, Pierce and Van Lanen will marry at their Pensacola home they share with their two dogs.
The couple often visits the beach and local scenic spots and enjoyed the Pensacola Mardi Gras celebration earlier this year. Pierce is even thinking of trying to get a disc golf krewe or float involved in next year’s celebration.
“It was a lot of fun, and I just thought it would be great if we had a disc golf float with a basket,’’ Pierce said. “People are throwing little Frisbees and beads already at the parade, so it seems like a good idea. There’s such a big disc golf community in Pensacola.”
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Many at Wednesday’s putting league offered congratulations to Pierce for her OTB Open victory.
“She dominated the whole tournament from start to finish,’’ said “Big” Mike Osley, a board member of the Emerald Coast Disc Golf Club, retail manager at Flight Factory disc golf shop on Tippin Avenue, and local tournament director. “She is the greatest female player of all time, and she played like she had a point to prove.”
Pierce has been recovering from an injured shoulder, but said she was “feeling great” in the days leading up to the tournament. She finished the OTB Open at 25 under par, consistently hitting fairways and sinking long-range putts.
“She just rose to the occasion,’’ Osley said. “She’s been on tour for 13 years and still finds ways to come out on top even when she’s battling back from an injury.”
Osley has played a round with Pierce at the Gator Links Course at Pensacola State College Milton campus, which is the Emerald Coast Disc Golf Club home course. (For more information, check out the Emerald Coast Disc Golf Club Facebook page.)
He said Pierce has pledged to donate funds to help improve and maintain the course.
“It just raises the profile of Pensacola when you hear ‘From Pensacola, Paige Pierce,’ and ‘From Pensacola, Madison Walker’ on the same card,’’ Osley said. “It’s pretty awesome.”
Area disc golfer Brit Stephens, who has played with Pierce, called the champion “a stellar human being,’’ referring to Pierce’s advocacy for mental well-being and promotion of kindness and understanding toward others.
“I told someone the other day that even off the course, she’s just phenomenal,’’ Stephens said. “She’s out there talking about how we should be kind to each other and that’s something I strongly believe in. I think that it’s really cool that she brings that spirit to Pensacola.”